Sunday, February 1, 2009

Procrastination, Part II: The Thief of Time

Current Reading: Marching As To War, by Pierre Burton

Inspirational Quote: "Procrastination is opportunity's assassin." -- Victor Kiam

I get up an hour and a half before I leave for work so I can shower, eat, and write. But I hit the snooze button instead of getting up, and I read while I eat and before I know it, it's time to go and I haven't even turned on the computer. Or, in the evening, after the boys have retired for the night, I've got an hour, maybe an hour and a half to catch up on correspondence and write. But there are blogs to read and web sites to visit. Then I'll go talk with the fair Penelope a bit, just to remind her that I'm alive and we're still legally married. Or I'll decide I've had a hard day and I need to relax by playing a game. The next time I look at the clock, it's 10:00, or 10:30 and time for me to get to bed before I pass out from exhaustion. Except I haven't written anything yet.

And the days pass. I feel guilty. I have read stories of writers who have sacrificed sleep and relationships and sometimes sanity just to get a few more words out. Stephen King plunked himself down at a typewriter in a closet after spending his days at a truly horrendous job. Sharyn McCrumb was sometimes so tired and frustrated and pregnant that she wrote while in tears. I don't do that (nor am I pregnant, but that's not my point), and I feel bad because all these other writers wanted it so much they were willing to sweat blood for a few more words while sometimes I can't bring myself to even hold down the shift key. I just don't seem to measure up, and how can one not feel discouraged by that?

To my credit, I've produced published short stories and I've knocked out uncountable many others, some of which will be submitted for publication in the fullness of time. I blog semi-regularly, which counts if I treat it as a serious piece of writing (which I do. I take every piece of writing seriously... and the humor pieces more seriously than others, which proves that if reality were made of metal, that metal would be irony). I write, but not with the dedication, intensity and productiveness that I feel I ought.

It's not that I don't have time. I make time. I just don't use it for its intended purpose. For instance, instead of adding a few lines to the Magnus Somnium, I'm writing a blog entry about procrastination (another instance of real-world irony).

I went to a Science Fiction convention once, longer ago than I care to admit, and a panel of writers gave their advice on how to join them in the ranks of the accomplished. One lady summed it up nicely: A.O.C. -- Ass On Chair. If you can't manage that, then the rest will be forever out of reach. I believed then, as I do now, that there is no greater wisdom, no hidden secret that could possibly exceed the value of those words. However, the difference between knowing it and living by it is the difference between blog posts and a three-book deal.

Exhibit A: a blog post. It appears I have some work to do.

Next time (or possibly the time after next): Understanding the Causes of Procrastination.

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